When it comes to budgeting, I find that one category tends to be questioned the most. The groceries. Dave Ramsey says that we need to focus on our four walls first and foremost. Food, clothing, shelter (including utilities), and transportation. But how much food is too much food? How much is enough?
Over the last year I have worked to get our grocery budget down and I find that 100.00 per person, per month seems to be what works best for my family. This includes anything that I would find at a normal grocery store including food, toiletries, and household items.
Now, if we were still living in Hawaii, even shopping at the commissary, this would not have been enough. This was what we spent roughly when we had only one kid in Hawaii. Now we have three.
So take your families specific situation into consideration when planning your grocery budget. But I really do believe that 100.00 per person is enough for the average american family.
Grow It Yourself
There is nothing like a fresh tomato with a little bit of salt to compliment a sandwich in the summer. An average Roma tomato plant can get you anywhere from 20-30lbs of tomatoes each year. And with a seedling cost only about four dollars, that .20-.13 cents a pound. A lot cheaper than what you can get at even the best sales in the grocery store.
Produce savings go up even more when you start your plants from seeds, a skill I have not mastered yet, but am working on.
Make It Yourself
Convenience costs, it’s just that simple. Because of this, most things you purchase at the store pre-made cost you a lot more than they would if you made them yourself at home. That 3.00 sandwich? It would have cost less than a dollar at home. That 8.00 pizza would cost about 25% of that when made from scratch at home, and if you can tomatoes that you grow in your garden the sauce ends up being roughly half of what you pay in the store.
Don’t Let The Stores Do The Work For You
Convenience doesn’t just mean pre-made. Convenience can also mean precut, prechopped, and pre-peeled. In this case, I mean your fruits and veggies. As I said before, it’s cheaper to grow what you can in your own garden, but if you need to purchase something from the store, it’s cheaper to purchase it in it’s most natural state. That means dealing with the tears a bit and cutting your own onions. Your bank account will thank you.
Buy Cheaper Cuts of Meat And Get Creative
They are cheaper for a reason, normally because they are tougher, which makes them less desirable. Tougher doesn’t mean inedible though, you just have to get creative. Marinades can go a long way when it comes to tenderizing meat, and so can a slow cooker. I always check Pinterest for recipe inspiration.
Compare Prices, And Be Willing To Shop Around
Not all stores are the same, and I’m not just comparing Target to Walmart. You might find butter cheaper at one store, and milk cheaper at another. Is it worth it to go to three different stores on grocery shopping day just to get savings? I think so, and it doesn’t take anymore time than couponing and searching deals does.
By keeping a price check sheet for several months you will also get a secondary benefit, learning the sales cycle of your store. By learning when you can get an item at rock bottom prices you can then buy in bulk at that time and save yourself even more.
Pay Attention To The Unit Price
Another thing about shopping around, pay attention to unit price. Peanut butter might be cheaper at Walmart compared to Aldi, but the jar at Aldi might be smaller. A bit of simple math will tell you how much you are paying per ounce at each store and that is what you want to look at. The less you pay per unit, the cheaper it is in the long run.
This is my number one tip, if implement nothing else in this article, please implement this one. Meal planning can seem boring and restrictive, but it’s not! Just like a budget is there so that you can tell your money where to go each month, a meal plan allows you to tell your grocery budget where to go. You can do a meal plan each month, as I do, or each week if you are worried you might get bored or lose track.
Either way, I recommend creating your meal plan for all three meals each day, plus a snack. This will make sure little tummies don’t grow hungry throughout the day. I have found that three good sized meals and one small snack are enough to keep my family going.
Did this article help you with ideas to lower your grocery bill? Do you have any more questions for me about this topic? Please leave them in the comments section below!
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